Recently, I was asked by a friend (another audiologist) why I belong to ASHA and what do they do for me? After all, they were the organization for speech-language pathology and really didn’t care about audiology except for the CCC-A, as believed by some. This led me to reflect on why I feel ASHA’s membership benefits me as an audiologist, focusing on the past few years.
Just in the last year, ASHA has provided me with a wealth of information related to reimbursement issues, which was developed in collaboration with the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, the Directors of Speech and Hearing Programs in State, Health and Welfare Agencies, Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology, the Educational Audiology Association, and the American Academy of Audiology.
For me, the guidance for audiologists on reviewing third party payer provider contracts was a very timely and helpful reminder because—at that time—my practice was being approached by a number of entities to provide hearing aid services.
Another helpful resource was the question and answer document about the new Otoacoustic CPT Codes that gave me information on how to bill these codes appropriately. There was also information on new requirements for the Physician Quality Reporting System, which helped me too. Aside from these useful and helpful resources, I appreciate that the information was developed jointly and shared within the audiology community.
When I think about advocacy being a member benefit, I’m thankful for quite a few things that ASHA’s advocacy team has pushed for, including:
- A comprehensive audiology benefit. This will allow me to provide the necessary rehabilitative/habilitative services to the people I serve. This proposal will recognize that audiologists are the best providers of these services. As health care moves toward prevention of health problems and a new payment system, this will allow me to provide therapy services as part of a team!
- Legislation related to early detection of hearing loss. The outcome of that work has benefited so many of the children and families we serve.
- Legislation that averted the proposed 20 percent cut in Medicare payments. These have been scheduled to take place every year for the last several years, but keep getting extended. I can’t help but think that ASHA’s lobbyists have been instrumental in helping in that effort.
ASHA’s ongoing advocacy for the profession of audiology has benefited me in so many ways. Recently, ASHA was very helpful working out the “kinks” in the federal employee health benefits hearing aid plan. ASHA is also developing and implementing plans to help us navigate through the new accountable care organizations. And, they are working diligently to see that we have a voice in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
As I continued to think of all of the benefits from ASHA membership—as an audiologist—I realized there has been great value in continuing to be a member of ASHA! I want to thank my friend for asking me why I still belong.
Stuart Trembath, MA, CCC-A, is chair of ASHA’s Health Care Economics Committee and co-owner of Hearing Associates in Mason City, Iowa.